Snails for pals, temporarily

It’s been cold and rainy in San Jose for the past week. During a brief dry phase, our family went searching for snails or any interesting critters that crawl out on damp days.

I realized that I’ve been looking in the wrong spots for snails this whole time. I looked down when I had to look around me. I presumed they were swimming in muddy puddles or crawling on the sidewalk. Guess I’ve been watching too much kid-animation stuff. What the heck was I thinking?! Of course these snails’ instinctual reaction would be to stay inconspicuous.

Chris found little communities of snails on tree trunks. Perfect place for camouflage. Kids and I got wide at this discovery while he looked skeptical of the whole thing. I returned the look hoping he’d read my mind: We’ve got a great science study here. You can’t say ‘no’ to that!

Chilling out on tree trunk

He reluctantly helped but couldn’t help himself from airing his skeptical comment, “How long will these guys last.”

Update: These two snails have been comfortably adjusting to their new habitat with fresh veggies and fruits each night. We are on day 3. On day 5, we’ll release them in the mulch.

Coming home with us

And tonight, we got a little surprise from our catfish. The fun part was seeing a sudden appearance of eggs after she made quick wiggling movements on the side of the aquarium. Kids went wild distracting the bigger fish from dining on fresh eggs: we lost a few but most have been moved to a small bowl.

Here we go again with the life cycle lesson. This happened in early January but the eggs never hatched. That weekend we visited a friend’s house where they had newborn guppies. OMG, we couldn’t believe how small and cute little fish are. (I can’t find pictures of those baby guppies on my phone.)

I’m glad we saved the “first bites” pellets for newborn fish. Hoping this time will be a more productive experience.

January surprise: Close-up view of eggs. These eggs, ultimately, did not hatch.
New fish eggs
In homemade habitat

A short entry from Thoreau’s journal

I am and have been a huge fan of Henry Thoreau since college. His journals are a fascinating read of his meticulous observations of nature in Concord, Massachusetts. When I miss nature and its quietness, I always revisit his writings.

I imagine meandering the grounds of Walden Pond and peeking into the simple cabin that Thoreau built himself and called home for just over two years, alone and apart from the general public. I would stroll though the forest, feeling the warm sun’s rays on my back, and hearing branches crunch on dried berries with each step. Perhaps we’d have coffee together sitting on a log outside his abode and talk endlessly about living counter cultural and ehat it means to march to the beat of our own drummers.

I have too many favorite quotes from his writings about nature, the creative mind, and how to live a simple life. But the one below is the most recent one I discovered: It’s simple but abstruse. I hope you can play with its meaning.

“The art of life, of a poet’s life, is, not having anything to do, to do something.”

April 29, 1852

Image result for where is walden pond
Walden Pond State Reservation
Photo by Snapwire on

(Catfish?) eggs still in egg form

Earlier last week I wrote about clusters of eggs we discovered in our fish tank. We guessed it would either be fish or snail eggs. Quickly the process of elimination helped me realize that it’s not snail eggs, because one of our snails died (exact time is unknown, hard to tell with snails). The lady at Petco said that it’s probably catfish eggs because they are more likely to lay eggs than other kinds of fish.

We have been vigilant about the eggs and have moved them comfortably into their own tank. Every morning and evening, I document with pictures to see if any visible changes are seen. Nothing dramatic so far. What do we notice is that the eggs are whiter and slightly bigger.

I read that newborn fish are very fragile, can’t swim or eat well, and are only able to consume tiny food bits multiple times throughout the day. Regular fish food is too big for their mouths, and they could possibly starve to death. Again, google teems with advice and suggestions on how to make these kinds of fish food. But it informed hopefuls that even under the best conditions, the eggs may not hatch.

As for food prep: the easiest one is getting a cup of aquarium water and letting it sit out in the sun until the water turns green. That has nutrients for the baby fish. I put plastic wrap over it, to prevent spillage, but Chris told me to make holes on top for oxygen. I checked right now, and the water is nowhere near green. Another feed: if the babies hatch and you have nothing on hand, boiled egg yolk could do the trick. Add into the tank with small liquid dropper or wrap yolk in cheesecloth and wait for the yolk-infused water to settle near the babies. And of course, for people like me, pet stores sell micro food for baby fish. We also lined the bottom of the tank with faux greenery so the babies could hide and the food could settle near them.

It usually takes 5-10 days for hatching, and we are on day 8. Last night I asked the kids if I could take one egg and, for the sake of science, dissect it. After serious consideration with frowns and hand wringing, they agreed. One condition: get one that looked almost dead. I haven’t decided if I will yet.

Our process went from elated at discovery, furiously researching hatching fish eggs, worried about how to set up a conducive newborn fish habitat. and making a field trip to Petco looking for supplies and asking questions.

Still waiting. And when they do hatch, they’ll be so small and cute!!

Fish or snail eggs? Maybe new additions to our tank.

Kids are freaking out! We’ve had our 10-gallon fish tank for about an year and no fish or snails have laid eggs. Yet the kids have always been hopeful that we will get a larger tank once the fish babies come. The drama of our fish tank go way back starting with tadpoles metamorphosed to African clawed frogs. Long story short: Rocket and Ribbit are buried outside our garage.

Once we saw a super tiny snail stuck on the aquarium glass, but it soon disappeared. Probably got eaten up by the bigger fish (not for sure but I have a hunch it’s the Betta). Since I’m a novice aquarium keeper, I had no expectation of our fish population growing.

I’ve been doing the bare minimum for our aquarium: cleaning every 2 weeks and feeding the fish crew every other night.

However, when I glanced over at the tank tonight, I discovered a cluster of little white balls attached to the leaf of our live plants. I quickly called the kids over to check them out. Omg. There was clapping, happy screaming, and loud talk of how to transfer the babies to safety into the spare tank.

Which will hatch? Fish or snails? It’s a mystery for now. If conditions are right, we’ll have an answer in in 3-5 days (that’s what I found by googling). I hope some will survive or the kids will shed tears again and beg me to get them new pets. Ahhhhhhh, no!

If they all survive, we may need to give some away. This subject was just brought up with Chris, and it was a big ‘No’ from both kids. Here we go on a new live science adventure.

The following are the stages of fish development from egg to fish:

  1. larvae
  2. fry
  3. fingerling
  4. fish

Photo of a determined tree

Can’t stop this tree

How does this happen?! And how do you fix it?

Still an interesting sight, and a great reminder that fences can’t bind nature.

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall that sends the frozen ground swell under it.”

“My apple trees will never get across
and eat the cones under his pines,I tell him. He only says,’Good fences make good neighbors.'”

“Mending Walls” by Robert Frost